‘If we use the net correctly it can be a resource’ – Pope Francis

Pope Francis conducts a mass at Santa Marta chapel at the Vatican May 28, 2019. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS

Pope Francis has said that if the internet and digital communication is used correctly, it can be a resource to people.

The head of the Catholic Church explained that digital communication is no match for the physical meeting and interaction with people, but if it helps to bridge distance between people and families who then meet physically, then it can be a benefit.

Pope Francis delivers these comments ahead of the 53rd World Communications Day event due to be held on the 2nd June.

Focus on Community

During his address, the Pope explores the concept of community which is presented through the internet.  While recognising its ability to create decentralised and horizontal connections between people, he says that the way that online communities form and exist are set around specific interests and can be divisive and therefore not ‘not automatically synonymous’ with the idea of community, ‘as a network of solidarity requires mutual listening and dialogue, based on the responsible use of language.’

This, in the online context, can lead to the spread of prejudice against certain groups and identities as well as, ‘unbridled individualism which sometimes ends up fomenting spirals of hatred.’

‘In this way, what ought to be a window on the world becomes a showcase for exhibiting personal narcissism,’ Pope Francis adds.

On the topic of the Net and young people, he stresses that the digital realm has the consequence of young people ending up isolating themselves from others. This he says shows, ‘a serious rupture in the relational fabric of society, one we cannot ignore.’

We should all promote positive use

The Pope explains that currently the use of the internet and its propensity to be divisive, individualistic and isolatory, raise serious questions about the fabric of society. This in turn is having a serious impact on government and the Church.

He stresses that while a focus on protecting the original free, open and secure nature of the internet is vital, it is up to everyone. ‘We all have the possibility and the responsibility to promote its positive use.’